Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book Giveaway: Apron Anxiety

When I picked up Alyssa Shelasky's book Apron Anxiety, I really wasn't expecting much at all. To be honest, I was mostly looking for an easy read for my subway ride to and from work, and ended up really connecting with a lot of the storyline. I read it in a matter of days - with a mix of smiles, anger and understanding.


The book is part memoir, part food tale, part recipes but ultimately a story about falling in love with food. Some passages might make some food-lovers cringe - Alyssa is a self proclaimed simple eater with generally no desire for fussy, 'adventurous' foods, but her love affair with cooking is endearing and relatable for anyone who uses time in the kitchen as a moment of peace from the outside world.  And the cherry on the cake? Shelasky shares candid details about her relationship with Top Chef hottie Spike Mendelsohn - the one contestant I was rooting for week after week on tv. The book is honest, witty and well-written. On a personal note, the ins and out of living with a chef as described by Alyssa really hit home for me, and the details were surprisingly similar to my own personal life living with a busy doctor. 

I got to ask Alyssa a few questions about her book, so read on for her answers and details about how to win a copy of Apron Anxiety!

Was writing the book therapeutic for you? Was it difficult to be so brutally honest about your relationship, family and the events that took place in your life?


The telling of my story was not as therapeutic as the feeling of importance and relevance that writing the book gave me. I started the process at a time when I felt very small, and quite unsure of myself. I remember how ecstatic I felt even just getting an agent. I mean, even if the journey had stopped there, it was the jolt I needed to feel alive again. Then that was multiplied a million by writing a proposal; and once I actually go the book deal, it was just all-together mind-blowing. So, I think, this sense of challenge and accomplishment, professionally, was the most uplifting of all. Examining my life, spilling my heart out, all that's something I've always done!

I tried your mom's tomato and garlic spaghetti recipe from the book - it was amazing. Dead simple, but I could have eaten the whole bowl! What's your favorite recipe you share in the book? Was it difficult to narrow them down?

My self-imposed rule was that if a recipe took too long to type, or the explaining of it was too laborious, than I'd skip it! To me, the most delicious is the Gentleman Caller's Onion and Cumin Quiche. It's really delicious,and involving cumin plus preparing your own crust adds just a touch of sophistication. The most special is the Shepherd's Pie because in the intro to it, I mention someone, one of the best human beings I ever knew, who recently passed away--  and I'm just so happy there's a little part of him inside my first book.

Is there a particular dish that you find really challenging to master in the kitchen?


None from my book, but I have a hard time making fish dishes, as simple as they are. I'm just a wimp about it. I can't stand the smell or texture of most raw fish. My boyfriend is a health-nut and wants me to integrate more salmon into my homecooking, but I'm sorry, no, yuck.

Tell me a little bit about your relationship with 'Chef, (as you refer to Spike in your book). What was his reaction to you writing a book with so many personal details about his life? What can you tell us about your current relationship?

"Chef" has proved to be an even better, kinder and more generous man that I even knew. He's supported me with writing Apron Anxiety, and now with the press and aftermath, some of which might not be so great for him or his current love life, he's still as incredible as always. Even though we have both moved on, we still feel sad about falling apart. It's only natural. I think the book is somehow our gift to each other....my gift to him in telling the story of our beautiful past, and his gift to me by allowing me the freedom to tell it.

Tell us a little about your current career - are you mostly writing about food?

Yes, I'm the New York editor of Grub Street New York, which is the food site for New York Magazine. It's a dream job that entails a lot of good food. Grub Street was the perfect marriage to writing Apron Anxiety; now that the book is "birthed," it will be interesting to see if I dive deeper into the culinary scene, or feel a need to distance myself from it a bit. Who knows? Food is just one of the things I'm interested in, it's not my life. We went to see Once the Musical the other night and then we walked around the city for a few hours, and it just felt so great to talk about music, and architecture, and travel...and then we got Good Humor ice cream bars from a little vendor on the street, and I was like "Yessss, this is the real me."

To win your very own copy of the book, comment on the post below and let me know what's the best food-related book you've recently read. The contest ends on June 30th, 2012, at midnight. The winner will be drawn at random and you must be a Canadian or American resident to enter. Good luck and I look forward to hearing from you!

35 comments:

MLE said...

My most favorite food related book is "Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes" by Elizabeth Bard. I truly believe this woman has the life I would most love to live. Thanks!

-Emily

SallyBR said...

My favorite food related book might be The Apprentice, by Jacques Pepin.

Anonymous said...

The best foodie book I've read recently is 'My Life in France,' by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme. She was THE coolest lady :) Molly

Pat R said...

I've never read a food related book, but after reading your post, I'd love to make Apron Anxiety my first. This sounds so intriguing.

psrrn@aol.com

Emma Pearse said...

No doubt: Gabrielle Hamilton's Blood, Bones & Butter. She's a glorious writer, a morose anti-foodie and a prize-winning chef. The Times called her a Cormac McCarthy of the culinary world, so I must attribute that to them but I came up with it on my own also. I swear. Gabrielle owns Prune in the East Village. Her book is an absolute must (you've probably read it, I'm a late adopter in general).

Self-knowledge said...

Book seems interesting. I like to read memoirs and nice thing it is part of food tale too :)

Elin said...

The best foodie book I've read recently was Blood, Bones & Butter. I love the way that each section compared a different type of family and then connected it all with food.

Elin
elinmariewoods@hotmail.com

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Great interview. I love to read anything related to food from cookbooks to novels that have some food in them.

One of my favorite books about food is "Mediterranean Summer" by David Shalleck. He is a chef aboard a large sailing yacht on the Cote d'Azur and the Italian coast. I read is every year.
Sam

Erin said...

I haven't really read any food books, but you make this one sound great! I love to read food magazines cover to cover though... :)

Bea Masters said...

Recently I've been going back and reading M F K Fisher's book The Art of Eating. It's a classic! But I'd love to read Apron Anxiety!

Melissa C. said...

THe Apprentice by Jacques Pepin

Christine said...

I was a member of a foodie book club once, which was awesome in concept, but regrettably poor in reality... But the book that stays with me the most is from WAY back, Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything. Cant wait to make a summer reading list from the Comments here!

Christine said...

I was a member of a foodie book club once, which was awesome in concept, but regrettably poor in reality... But the book that stays with me the most is from WAY back, Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything. Cant wait to make a summer reading list from the Comments here!

Elizabeth said...

I'm a mystery reader but I love Joanne Fluke's series of food named mysteries. I just read "Cinnamon Roll Murder".I have used several of the recipes in these books.

M.G.T@SoSheDid said...

I can't say I've read any food related books, other than dozens of cookbooks! I think I would really relate to this book though! xo Mary

M.G.T@SoSheDid said...

I can't say I've read any food related books, other than dozens of cookbooks! I think I would really relate to this book though! xo Mary

M.G.T@SoSheDid said...

I can't say I've read any food related books, other than dozens of cookbooks! I think I would really relate to this book though! xo Mary

roblovesleo said...

I read cookbooks like novels...and right now I am into the The Pioneer Woman..Ree Drummond...love the photography as well...Simple and honest...:-)

roblovesleo said...

I read cookbooks like novels..and right now I am inot Ree Drummond- THe Pioneer Woman..beautiful photography as well as down home cooking...love it all...simple and honest..

Johanna GGG said...

I enjoyed reading about the book and despite not being eligible for the giveaway - I love Toast by Nigel Slater

Katie said...

Ooh, I hadn't heard about that book. I'm excited to try it out. The food related books I read are usually Michael Pollan's. Recently I read "The Eater's Manifesto."

Cindy said...

So many great suggestions. Can't wait to read a few!

Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy said...

I love Molly Wizenbergs: A Homemade Life and currently reading Stephanie Alexanders: A Cooks Life.
Great review!

sindy said...

i usually read a variety of cookbooks :) i love to look at the pictures and admire the food styling. i love just staring at the pictures. the most recent food related book was, "Letters from a Young Chef" by Daniel Boulud.

daphne said...

What a great book!

My current fav is actually an oldie- a Nigella Lawson "Domestic Goddness"... It makes me feel just like one.

Pacheco Patty said...

I like so many food related books but one standout was Cooking for Mr Latte by Amanda Hesser. I've got Apron Anxiety on my bucket list now;-)

Purabi Naha said...

This book looks great and i'd love to have a copy.My favourite book is Party Cooking by Sanjeev Kapoor.

Miss McBooty said...

I won't lie, I don't have an extensive collection of Food books that aren't packed to the brim with recipes. I do have a favorite though, and that's Julia Child's The Way To Cook. She is such a great personality! I absolutely adore her.

rldeutschman said...

i love flipping through Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream :)

rldeutschman said...

I love flipping through Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream.

Deb said...

I have just started "Tomatoland" which is very enlightening reporting about the tomato industry. I'm usually more of a cookbook browser; but am looking for a few great books to take on vacation. Thank you for the review of "Apron Anxiety" as I wouldn't have thought to pick it up!

Andrea V said...

If I'm not looking through cookbooks, I tend to gravitate towards books of the fantasy/adventure, grim/noir/supernatural/mystery persuasion, so my favorite foodie related book is quite sadly the only true foodie related book I've read and that is Julie & Julia, which I loved. I do hope to broaden my foodie library so I'm keeping my fingers crossed :) I'd love to read Apron Anxiety..thanks for sharing with us!

Emily said...

sounds like a great read!
i'm currently reading marion nestle's "food politics" which is an interesting glimpse into where our food is grown and the food industry.

Xin, MD, MPH said...

I love Beard on Food. It's elegant and full of wisdom and love for food and adventures

Xin, MD, MPH said...

Beard on Food, it's full of joy, wisdom and love for life.

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